Transport Minister Warns More Of More Closures On Other Vulnerable Routes
Although this morning there is calm on Costa Rica’s roads following the chaos lived through in the last couple of days, the ministro de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT), Francisco Jiménez, warns that several major roads in the country could be closed at any moment due to their “precarious” state of repair.
Jiménez made the warning during the announcement of the re-opening of the Interamericana norte of Friday afternoon, following its complete closure since Wednesday night when the raging waters of the Rio Seco completely washed out a section of the road.
“Some roads and some bridges are operating at risk. We are making every effort so that the hazard is minimal”, Jiménez told the La Nación on Friday. “It would be very easy to close 300 bridges, but no, we must ensure that the risk is controlled”, explained the minister.
The minister said that the roads will continue open as long as there is no “imminent” danger to life.
Jiménez identified the roads presenting major risk are the ruta 32 (San José-Guápiles), Interamericana Norte (San José-Peñas Blancas) and ruta 27 (San José-Caldera), the three major routes connecting the Central Valley to the Pacific, Caribbean and North.
Although not mentioned by the minister, the Interamericana Sur (San José – Perez Zeledon) is not picnic for drivers either.
The San José-Caldera, being a road operated under concession by a private company is monitored on a 24/7 basis, but the others, being operated by the government have no monitoring other than the occasional traffic cop patrol.
Besides placing people’s lives at risk, the economic damage both to national production and tourism caused by the closure of any one or more of these major roads is incalculable.
That was evidenced on Thursday and Friday when tourists (both national and foreign) began cancelling their reservations at Guanacaste hotels and raw materials and finished products and produce sat idle in factories or trucks parked along the side of the Interamericana waiting for the road to re-open.
Luis Liberman, Costa Rica’s second vice-president, acknowledged that the country can not depend on a single road in the places where the production is moved.
At the same time, he announced a number of works for alternate routes, but was short on the details.
For his part, minister Jiménez said he intends to allocate part of the us$850 million dollar loan given to the central government towards the poor condition of the bridges throughout the country.